WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps on the market, recently released a feature that clones Snapchat’s Stories. This feature might be important for a number of reasons – but do their users actually want it?
Pressure to build what your market segment doesn’t want
It seems clear that WhatsApp is trying to cause direct harm to Snapchat with this release. Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, will soon publicly trade, and this moment could be make or break for the company. WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, might have pushed the feature to take the wind out of their sails. This raises the question – is harming Snapchat by bloating WhatsApp actually the best move?
WhatsApp’s biggest demographic is poorer countries, where the residents usually have less powerful phones. They use WhatsApp because it’s simple, fast, free, and lightweight. The addition of features that bloat the app will only make it harder for WhatsApp’s target market to use their app.
Define your market to define your product
WhatsApp seems like they’re having trouble understanding their market. They might have some metrics that prove that most of their users also use Snapchat stories, but I can’t imagine it’s possible for them to accurately make that claim.
Which features would their users use, and which are unnecessary? These are questions that product managers must always be asking. WhatsApp’s announcement came as a surprise because either few people knew about the change, or because the people who did know couldn’t reveal it. But that doesn’t mean that users weren’t consulted. Defining your market allows you to find the users you want to target, and to actually find out if they’d use your new features. For WhatsApp’s sake, I hope they did this kind of testing.
Even big companies build MVPs
Yik Yak’s recent foray into social networking is a great example of this. Hive comes from employees of the failed anonymous posting app, and is only available at one school. Their strategy is clear; they’re testing that users actually like their product before a wide release. That, and they’re building the buzz.
Even employees from $400 million dollar companies start slow. Define your market and test your product. Then, build something you’re sure that your market will love.
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